For Queer Romance Month, I wrote about why I write LGBTQIA Young Adult literature. Timmy decided to join me and write his own post about the importance of LGBTQIA Young Adult literature in school and local libraries and some of the difficulties and disappointments he has encountered. Take it away, Timmy!
Books are important for many reasons to many different types of people of all ages. They help people learn, explore, and grow. Books broaden vocabulary, teach us history, and help us cope when we need to take a break from reality. Before I moved to my new home, I was only able to read what was available in the school library. The only gay character I had ever read about was in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. They were great books, but taught me nothing of being a gay teen. What it did teach me, though, was that there were books out there about people like me. It wasn’t until right before I moved into my new home that I realized there were books all about gay kids, and that maybe I could learn from those books, and find hope and acceptance within their pages.
Many of the books I have read have helped me learn and grow as a gay teen. I read answers to questions I was too embarrassed to ask, learned that not all gay kids have bad endings, and found the hope I needed to go on. All these things were found in the pages of LGBT young adult books.
Although many will argue that teens shouldn’t read about sex, I completely disagree. How are we to learn about safe sex? I can tell you they do not cover gay sex in health class. If done wrong, someone could be needlessly hurt. Are we to ask our parents? The very parents we are too afraid to come out to? Or the teachers that make us feel worse than the students do? Or our doctors who give us clinical, sterile pamphlets that contain no details? Yet, if you go to Amazon.com and type in free m/m books, what do you find? Porn on page! This is not what we are looking for. So, isn’t it safer to have good, healthy reading for us gay teens?
Many of us turn to books for information and, now that there are eReaders, Nooks, and Kindles, it’s easier to find the vital information that we are looking for. I have now read a number of books that feature gay main characters that contain no sex at all but an awesome story of hope and acceptance. We don’t only need books about coming out or romance. We need a well-rounded library that offers LGBT youth a variety of books that match what is available to heterosexual youth.
Teens rarely have the disposable income of adults and depend on libraries to get books but, in most cases, those with LGBT main characters are not available. So what can they do to find the books they want and, in some cases, need to read? School librarians could provide support by keeping LGBT books on the shelves and by finding materials in which they can see themselves reflected in the pages. LGBT students can then find resources that they were previously unaware of such as stories and themes that reflect lives that they can identify with and that also answer questions and concerns that they are too afraid to ask.
I asked both my school and local librarians to consider adding a few LGBT books and was told that they must first be approved. I’m assuming they were never approved because I went back and asked again (same people), and I was told again, “they need to be approved.” I even told them I have friends who are authors of LGBT young adult books and I could ask them to donate books, but still the same answer. A lot of the heterosexual young adult books I read (from my school library) have sex in them—some of which is quite detailed (ewwww). When I donated a heterosexual young adult book that was not in the library, they read the back of it and added it to the shelf by the end of the day. Why, then, do LGBT books have to be pre-read and approved? That isn’t fair.
LGBT youth often go through or see horrible things that teach us it not okay or safe to be openly gay. The stats on LGBT teens are incredibly sad. According to the Bullying Statistics Website, about one fourth of all students from elementary age through high school are the victims of bullying and harassment while on school property because of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation. According to recent gay bullying statistics, gay and lesbian teens are two to three times as more likely to commit suicide than other youths, and about 30 percent of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis. To learn more on these stats please visit the website.
LGBT youth NEED books that offer them information, hope, and perspective, and my hope is that we can get to a point in our society where we can all go to a library and find books that will help us, teach us, and better us. Please help by asking your local and school libraries to carry books for everyone, LGBT youth included.
See you back here next month, on Monday, November 17th!
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Όμορφη. Ómorphi. Greek. Meaning pretty
Pretty. adj. /pritē/ Pleasing by delicacy or grace
High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.
Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together. Read an excerpt of Omorphi
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Caleb had one mission in life.
To keep his boyfriend safe.
They met at ten, kissed at twelve, and were madly in love by eighteen. Caleb Deering is the captain of the swim team and the hottest senior in school. He comes from a loving home with a kind father and a caring, but strict, mother who is battling breast cancer. Nico Caro is small and beautiful, and has a father who rules with an iron fist—literally. One morning Caleb forgets himself, and he pecks Nico on the lips at school. A teacher sees them and tattles to the Headmaster. The accidental outing at school might be the least of their problems, because the ball set in motion by the school’s calls to their parents could get Nico killed. In the face of that very real danger, Caleb knows he has only one mission in life: to keep Nico safe. Read an excerpt of Safe.